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Skills@Work is compiled and distributed by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. All articles are submitted by the originating organisation and are published with their approval. They may not necessarily reflect the views of the department.

If you would like to provide feedback on this newsletter, please send us an email.


October 2016


A message from the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills

Since my last foreword for Skills@Work I have met with a range of stakeholders to hear more about the issues facing vocational education and the opportunities to raise the status of the sector. Some of the highlights from the last month include meeting with providers and industry, kicking goals with Kevin Sheedy, opening the WorldSkills competition in Melbourne, and speaking at the VELG National VET conference about apprenticeships and the relationship with industry.

It’s always inspiring to meet people who are passionate about vocational education and training. I have heard much about the opportunities provided by quality training and have been encouraged by the commitment to strong outcomes from training from those who I meet.

A common theme of discussions, with students, individual industry representatives, training providers, and those contributing through the VET Advisory Board, is the importance of ensuring VET is valued and has the status it deserves. VET is central to our nation’s prosperity. It is also at the heart of our plan to ensure people have real choice and are provided with the right pathways to gain appropriate skills for employment – whether that be to enter the jobs market or to adapt their skills to a changing world.

The announcement by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham on changes to VET FEE-HELP will take us a step closer to regaining confidence in the sector. The new VET Student Loans program will provide value for money to both students and taxpayers through tougher barriers to entry for providers, properly considered loan caps on courses and stronger course eligibility.  The Government will now reign in the rorters with a program that is is sustainable and affordable.

I look forward to more opportunities to work to promote the value of our system over the next month – and beyond.

The Hon Karen Andrews MP

Support for students is at the centre of the new VET Student Loans program to be introduced from 1 January 2017

The current VET FEE-HELP scheme will be replaced by VET Student Loans to ensure students and employers can trust the approved vocational education providers and the value and quality of the courses on offer.

Announced 5 October by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham the new program will focus on protecting students, weeding unscrupulous providers out of the sector, and restoring integrity to Australia’s vocational education and training system.

Future business and industry employment requirements have also been considered. This means that students who study a course supported by VET Student Loans know they are getting the skills they need for a job and a pathway to employment or to increasing employment opportunities.

TAFEs, public providers and Australian universities (that are currently approved as VET FEE-HELP providers) will automatically transition to the new program while private providers will be required to meet a range of quality measures to be granted access.

Students currently studying under the existing VET FEE-HELP scheme will receive support and advice around maintaining their VET FEE-HELP assistance until the end of 2017.

A range of information on the new program and the transition from VET FEE-HELP is available from the VET Student Loans page of the Department’s website.

For further information email VETStudentLoans@education.gov.au or call the HELP Student Enquiry Line on 1800 020 108.

The Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) is available now

Funded by the Department of Education and Training, FSAT is an interactive online tool designed to identify and measure an individual’s foundation skill levels (English language, literacy and numeracy skills as well as employability skills). These skills are fundamental to participation in the workforce, the community and in adult education and training.

FSAT will provide valuable information to trainers and educators such as Registered Training Organisation’s, enabling them to assess their client’s foundation skill levels, and identify skills and knowledge where additional development may be beneficial. This, in turn, will assist students and job seekers, by targeting the areas where individuals may require additional support.

The department is currently working with the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to finalise and validate FSAT. By participating in this phase of FSAT development, you will be helping to ensure that a final and free version of FSAT is available to the VET sector as quickly as possible. We invite you to use the tool and provide feedback.

Further information regarding FSAT, including answers to ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, is available at: http://www.education.gov.au/foundation-skills-assessment-tool.

AISC reviews Industry Reference Committees to give industry a clear voice

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Hon Karen Andrew MP addressed the tenth meeting of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) in Melbourne on 22 August 2016. Minister Andrews noted that the key to quality in the VET sector is close involvement of industry at all stages. Only industries know the skills they need to ensure their businesses are productive and able to compete. The Minister noted the importance of industry taking the opportunities presented by the new arrangements for training package development.  

AISC Chair, Mr John Pollaers, noted the opportunity provided by the current review of the structure and membership of Industry Reference Committees. The review is now fully underway, providing opportunities for all industry stakeholders to be part of the committees that will determine the skills that VET graduates will have. IRCs need members that have up-to-date, relevant expertise and links across their industry.

The Committee approved the new structure and membership of the Furniture IRC and the three forestry-related IRCs (Forestry Management and Harvesting, Timber and Wood Processing and Timber Building Solutions). These IRCs were part of the pilot review of IRCs. The Committee welcomed the strong field of nominees for membership of these committees. The new IRCs will take effect from mid-October once all nominees have been advised of the outcome. Details of the IRC review, and opportunities to participate, can be found at https://www.aisc.net.au/content/irc-review.

Further details of the outcomes of the September meeting of the AISC can be found at http://www.aisc.net.au/communiques.

Photo (left to right): Mr Brett Schimming, Ms Megan Lilly, Ms Michelle Melbourne, Mr John Pollaers, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Mr Ian Hill, Mr Bill Galvin OAM, Mr Darren Mathewson and Mr Robert Bonner.

The National Training Complaints Hotline

Since January 2015, Vocational Education and Training students have had an easy to use and accessible central contact point through which to direct complaints about the training sector - that is, complaints relating to their training at the Certificate I to IV, and Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels.

The key purpose of the National Training Complaints Hotline is to streamline and simplify the reporting of complaints for VET consumers. While the service does not directly investigate or address complaints, it connects people with the most appropriate organisation to resolve them.

The Hotline supports student well-being and welfare by operating as a referral service which, since its inception, has dealt with over 1400 calls from students and other stakeholders.

It has also become a valuable tool to map trends in the VET sector and to help students who may have training issues preventing them from achieving their best educational outcome.

The Hotline is accessible on 13 38 73 (option 4), Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm nationally or via email at NTCH@education.gov.au.

2016 NSW Training Awards

The Hon John Barilaro MP, Minister for Skills, Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Small Business hosted the NSW Training Awards in Darling Harbour on Thursday 8 September.

The gala event was attended by over 500 guests with representatives from a broad cross section of the VET sector, senior government officials and high ranking representatives of commerce and industry in NSW.

The NSW Training Awards recognise outstanding achievement in the vocational education and training sector. They honour and reward the achievements of students, trainers/teachers, training organisations and large and medium employers from across the state.

Minister Barilaro highlighted the importance of vocational education and training, saying "VET is a viable, competitive pathway to training for skills which are in demand for a NSW and Australian economy in transition. VET provides our school leavers with options for work skills and provides mature aged workers with opportunities to reskill or upskill. In fact, VET can be a pathway to lifelong learning and to a more prosperous life for you and your family."

Training Services NSW welcomed a new Award this year, that of Excellence in Signage, sponsored by Visual Connections. This was in addition to a new Alliance partner in the National Rugby League.

2016 NSW winners, in aligned catagories, will head off to Darwin to represent NSW at the Australian Training Awards on 17 November.

Training Services NSW wish all our award winners good luck and every success at the National title.

You can meet the winners and read their stories on the Training Services NSW website.

2016 South Australian Training Awards

The 2016 South Australian Training Awards welcomed 600 people to celebrate the quality and achievements of students, employers, teachers, apprentices, trainees and training providers in the vocational education and training sector.

The event, hosted by the Training and Skills Commission at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Friday 9 September, recognised and rewarded individuals and organisations for outstanding achievements in training.

Individual winners receive $5000 towards career development and may have the opportunity to represent South Australia at the Australian Training Awards on 17 November in the Northern Territory.

For more information about the awards, including the 2016 award winners, visit www.satrainingawards.sa.gov.au.

Photo (left to right): Training and Skills Commission member, Ms Lindsay Palmer, Mr Ken Palmer and The Hon Susan Close MP, South Australian Minister for Higher Education and Skills.

Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program

On 7 September, Minister for Skills John Barilaro, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance launched the Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program.

The Program will capitalise on the NSW Government’s record $73 billion infrastructure investment to boost the number of skilled construction workers and create fresh employment pathways for a more diverse trade workforce of tomorrow.

Following industry consultation, the Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program has set in place ambitious and achievable training and employment targets for major NSW infrastructure projects, which will offer a lasting legacy of skilling and job opportunities.

Two demonstration projects – Sydney Metro and Lismore Base Hospital Stage 3B redevelopment – have been selected for initial application of the ISLP targets.

The unique characteristics of the two projects will allow for practical assessment and refinement of the targets before potentially applying them to future major infrastructure projects across NSW.

More information is on the Training Services NSW website.


Skills Impact

Skills Impact is an independent, national Skills Service Organisation (SSO) for a diverse range of industries based on grown and renewable resources and their value chains. Skills Impact provides services to various Industry Reference Committees (IRCs), to develop the skills standards and qualifications for the industries they represent.

The relevant IRCs are now seeking feedback on draft Business Cases to support the commencement of the following project.

Proposed Improvements to Support Greater Safety in Equine Training

Thank you to everybody who provided feedback on the Discussion Paper for Equine, Safety in Training. The relevant IRCs have drawn on this feedback to develop a Business Case for submission to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC).

The IRCs are seeking feedback on the draft Business Case up until Monday, 17 October 2016.


Markeeta Douglas

This month’s Feature VET Alumni member is Markeeta Douglas!

Markeeta Douglas’ interest in audiometry started at a young age, having suffered from ear infections for the majority of her childhood.

In her late 20s, Markeeta enrolled in a Certificate IV in Audiometry by distance education and believes her training has opened up many opportunities for her to boost the health of local Aboriginal people. Markeeta is now employed as an audiometrist at the Awabakal Cooperative in Newcastle, an organisation that is leading the way in Aboriginal ear health in New South Wales and beyond. Markeeta won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the 2013 Australian Training Awards.

Watch Markeeta’s Real Stories Real Achievements video.

Philip Matthews-Frederick

This months’ feature Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador is a past competitor in the WorldSkills Australia National Competition.

A childhood fascination with machinery naturally translated into a fitting and turning career for Philip Matthews-Frederick.

Philip’s passion for the trade and ability to solve mechanical problems with a perfectly designed and manufactured solution ensured he was selected to compete at the 2013 WorldSkills International Competition in Leipzig, Germany.

The 26-year-old competed alongside Rowan Diggins and fellow Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador Mathew McGlashan in the Manufacturing Team Challenge.
Philip’s selection to compete in Germany came after winning a silver medal at the 2012 WorldSkills Australia National Competition in the Turning category.

Read Philip’s story here.

Follow the competitors in this year’s WorldSkills Australia’s National Competition here.

Stephen Lunn

On World Teacher’s Day we recognise the 2015 VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Stephen Lunn from Tasmania.

Stephen Lunn has been the lead Vocational Education and Training Hospitality Teacher at Guildford Young College in Tasmania for six years. A well-known and widely respected chef with over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Stephen brings to his role a wealth of restaurant and catering experience across Australia and Europe.
Stephen teaches Cooking Essentials and Food and Beverage Service across both the Hobart and Glenorchy campuses of Guilford Young College which provide him with a great diversity of not only student dynamics, but also the organisational challenges this presents.




E-Oz and SkillsOz Conference 2016

8–9 November, Marriott Resort and Spa, Surfers Paradise

The theme for 2016 is Assuring quality in the National VET system – Change, Challenge, Opportunity and the conference will focus on where the industry stands with the current and impending VET situation, including future changes to be faced and addressed.

This year’s conference will aim to bring together the knowledge of the ElectroComms and Energy Utilities ISC as well as the Construction and Property Services ISC, and their industries, and present an exciting range of presentations, workshops and forums.

Registrations are now open.

2016 Australian Training Awards

17 November 2016, Darwin, Northern Territory

Register now to attend the 2016 Australian Training Awards presentation dinner. 

Find out more on the website or by emailing australiantrainingawards@education.gov.au.

VET Policy, Compliance and Funding Summit

22-23rd November 2016

22-23rd November 2016

Understanding the VET Regulatory framework, and managing compliance can be challenging. Keeping up-to-date with changes in standards and funding contracts conditions represent the greatest risk for RTOs.

This event puts compliance in action, providing case scenarios, examples of best practices, and an opportunity to interact with policy makers, regulators, and VET experts.

Are you looking to establish compliance in your operations and effectively lead your RTO? This event will cover all your needs with regards to Policy, Compliance, and Funding contracts.

Visit our website or contact our team on 02 9890 2554 or at info@insources.com.au for more information.


International Indigenous Conferences


1–3 December 2016, Pullman Cairns International Hotel, Queensland

To register for the International Indigenous Health Conference and the International Indigenous Allied Health Conference, please visit the conference website or send an email.

2016 National Conference on VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education


8 December 2016, Sydney TAFE campus, 2pm to 5pm
9 December 2016, University of Sydney Technology, 9am to 4pm

The Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group (ACDEVEG) in partnership with the School of Education, University of Technology Sydney and Sydney TAFE is holding the 2016 National Conference. The conference theme for this year is Research, Policy & Teaching Practice: building connections.

The program is an important forum for VET practitioners, teacher educators, researchers and policy makers to share knowledge and to work collaboratively in the VET sector.

Visit the conference website for more information and to register online.

2017 DATES

ACER National Adult Training and Assessment Conference

23-24 March 2017, Melbourne

Building on the success of the National Adult Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Conference (NALLNAC), ACER has decided to expand the scope of the conference, to be called the ACER National Adult Training and Assessment Conference (NATAC).

The theme for NATAC 2017 is Assess, train and learn: Foundations for the future. Please save these dates in your calendar.

Topics and sessions to be included in NATAC 2017 will address quality systems in VET, including assessment and links with industry; quality trainers, including the skills/capabilities that VET practitioners need to develop; and quality teaching and learning practices. NATAC will continue to include a significant LLN stream.

Visit the ACER website for more details. ttps://www.acer.edu.au/nallnac/


Australian Apprenticeships - provides quick and easy access to information regarding Australian Apprenticeships, including Australian Apprenticeships programs, employer incentives and support for apprentices during their apprenticeships.

Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service and Australian Apprenticeships Pathways - provide apprenticeships and traineeships information and resources.

Australian Industry and Skills Committee - established by the COAG Industry and Skills Council in May 2015, it provides industry-led advice on the implementation of national vocational education and training and approves training packages for implementation.

Australian Training Awards - the peak, national awards for the vocational education and training sector, recognising individuals, businesses and registered training organisations for their contribution to skilling Australia.

AusAppPathways - this mobile app helps students and jobseekers explore potential Australian Apprenticeships career ideas based on their interests.

Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors video series -  has been updated to include our latest NRL Ambassadors.

AITD's eLearning Essentials online course - this online course will model best practice as you work your way through the learning process, engaging with the content, the trainer and other participants.

ACPET - view upcoming webinars and workshops.

business.gov.au - offers businesses simple, practical and convenient access to all the government information, programmes and services they need to make running their business and skilling their employees easier.

Book an Australian Apprenticeship Ambassador - find an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador to speak at your next event.

Be MoneySmart - this website aims to get you in control of your money to help you achieve your goals.

CareerMe app - a free app to help young people plan career paths and find job opportunities.

Discover your Career - find a career in Hospitality or Tourism.

eWorks – explore the latest blogs.

Ideas that Work – LLN videos - an online library of free LLN training and professional development videos.

Insources website - provides professional development programs for VET practitioners.

MySkills.gov.au - provides information about vocational education and training to future and current students, jobseekers and employers to help them make informed choices about training.

National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) - a not for profit company responsible for collecting, managing, analysing, evaluating and communicating research statistics about vocational education and training.

National Skills Week - provides a platform to highlight the opportunities and career pathways available through vocational education and training.

StudyAssist.gov.au - one stop shop for information on government assistance while studying. Students can use the website to determine their options for financing their tertiary study. The course search function allows students to look for courses offered by approved VET FEE-HELP providers.

SkillsOne - hundreds of videos about getting a trade or a skill.

TradePapers app - keep all of your trade documents in one secure location.

training.gov.au - the official national register of information on training packages, qualifications, courses, units of competency and registered training organisations, developed for experienced training sector users.

Unique Student Identifier (USI) - provides information about the USI, a reference number that creates a secure online lifetime record of an individual’s nationally recognised training and qualifications.

VET Student Loans - provides information about the new VET Student Loans program commencing 1 January 2017.

VETNet - a central storage facility for relevant current and historical materials relating to the national VET sector, in particular companion volumes implementation guides.

The VET PD Network - a capable and professional Group that provides professional development workshops to RTOs and the VET sector.

Velg Training – PD and consulting services, Live Streams, Webinars and Workshops.

VOCEDplus – the latest research on the VET sector.

WorldSkills Australia - working to promote and build a skills culture by inspiring young people, celebrating skills excellence and providing opportunities to showcase trade and skill talent through competitions held on a regional, national and international level.


If you would like to provide feedback, supply an article for inclusion in the next edition or join our list of subscribers, please email skillsatwork@education.gov.au. The next edition will be published in November 2016. Submissions are due by Thursday, 27 October 2016.